Zombie Deer Disease Detected in NY

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But what exactly is it and could it spread to humans?

The disease is considered a prion disease. Experts says it could an infected animal more than a year to develop symptoms, which include wasting, or drastic weight loss, listlessness, stumbling and other neurological symptoms. That's why it's been called "zombie" disease. However, it is important to note that infected animals may appear perfectly healthy because symptoms usually don't appear for months or even years. The disease attacks the animals' brains. Even though, at this time, the chronic wasting disease (CWD), as it's known scientifically, only affected deer, elk, and moose, it might pass to humans, too, scientists warn.

CWD is nothing new, according to the CDC.

According to the CDC, this disease is present in at least 24 states in the United States and two provinces in Canada.

While there are no reported cases of CWD in humans, researchers have noted that monkeys which consumed contaminated deer meat contracted the deadly disease.

He said the reports in south New Mexico are of a small herd of deer. It has been confirmed as far east as NY state. Although the overall rate of infection in deer, elk and moose across the country is low, infection rates may be as high as 10 to 25 percent in places where it is common.

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Some experts have raised concerns that the disease could pose a risk to humans.

Scientists think that the abnormal prions responsible for causing CWD spread between animals through either direct or indirect (contaminated food, soil or water) contact with bodily fluids, such as feces, saliva, blood or urine. While there are no known cases of this condition in humans, CWD can infect primates, so humans might also contract this illness. It is believed that the most likely route of transmission is through consuming infected meat.

"We are in an unknown territory situation", he told USA Today. "It's possible the number of human cases will be substantial and will not be isolated events".

What precautions can people take?

The CDC is, however, continuing to warn the public to test their venison or elk meat for CWD before eating it from areas with documented infections.

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